David R. Whitney

Savonarola Chairs


For Volpone, I built four identical Savonarola chairs. The designer liked the Savonarola style, but wanted to contemporize them to match the look and feel of the overall design.


This chair, by Design Toscano, was one of the research photos showing the traditional Savonarola chair.


This is a designer sketch showing how he wanted to contemporize the style.

Based on the research pictures and conversations with the designer, I drew a 3D model of the chair using Google SketchUp. Drawing the chair in 3D allowed me to virtually construct each piece before cutting a single board.


The most time consuming part of the construction was cutting the legs. Once I gridded, cut, and sanded the template, each leg had to be traced, cut, and flush-trim routed to size. The seat, arms, legs, and back were cut with the same process.


After all the pieces were cut, they were base coated. The legs and seat pieces were then assembled using 3/8″ threaded rod through pre-drilled holes at the joints, capped on each end with acorn nuts.


Pictured here (upside-down) is the chair with the legs fully attached to the seat.


The arms and feet were attached next.


And finally, the back.


The four chairs together, before final paint.


Two of the completed chairs, painted gold to match the set, each with a custom pillow.